- Q: Was it morally wrong for the United States and Canada to imprison their citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II, and confiscate their
- A: It was a horrible illegal act, discriminating against people solely because they looked different. Italians and Germans, whose ancestral homelands were also the enemy, were not locked up.
Let’s break that question into three:
- Q1: Would it be morally wrong for a country to lock up a population, many of whom were supportive of an enemy?
- A1: No.
- Q2: Was a significant portion of the Japanese population of Canada and the United States supportive of a Japanese victory during World War II?
- A2: No.
- Q3: If the Americans and Canadians of Japanese ancestry had been supportive of the enemy during the war, would it have been proper to put them in internment camps?
- A3: Yes.
By asking the right question we can see that it’s not internment in principle that was a mistake. It was mis-characterizing Japanese Canadians and Americans as enemy sympathizers.
Let’s try another one
- Q: Was it morally wrong for the United States and Canada to keep out Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis?
- A: Yes
Let’s also break that question into three:
- Q1: Is it wrong for a country to keep out a class of people, a great many of whom want to take over that country?
- A1: No.
- Q2: Did the Jews of Europe want to violently (if at all) take over Europe, the United States, or Canada?
- A2: No.
- Q3: If the Jews had wanted to violently take over Europe, the United States, or Canada, would it have been wrong to keep them out?
- A3: No.
This shows that we haven’t been asking the right question. We shudder at the idea of treating a particular group of people differently than anyone else. Given the horrible consequences of turning away refugees during the Holocaust, we want to welcome everyone today. But the mistake of the past wasn’t turning the enemy away from our shores. It’s not wrong to guard against enemies working from the inside. The mistake was considering the Jews and Japanese as the enemy, looking to take over or destroy the nations they wanted to be part of.
Bringing it all into the present, the right question is:
- Q4: If ________ want to violently take over Europe, the United States, or Canada, would it be wrong to keep them out?
- A4: No.
To fill in the blank, let’s look at the core belief of a particular group, as described by one of their leading scholars:
“Islam is not a religion like the other religions of the world, and Muslim nations are not like other nations. Muslim nations are very special because they have a command from Allah to rule the entire world and to be over every nation in the world. Islam is a revolutionary, totalitarian ideology that comes to destroy any government made by man. The goal of Islam is to rule the entire world and submit all of mankind to the ideology of Islam. Any nation or power that gets in the way of that goal, Islam will fight and destroy. In order to fulfill that goal, Islam can use every power available every way it can be used to bring worldwide revolution. This is Jihad.“
With the blank filled in, answer the following question: would it be wrong to keep them out? Clearly not.
This may contradict the accepted liberal “…values of liberty, and openness, and the respect of all people.” That’s not the right question. The primary value of any country must be the security of its citizens, rather than the security of an ideology.